By Tori Rollins
We are starting month three of our sixth year homeschooling. That still makes me a rookie. In my mind, I should be getting it down to a science. Or at the very least I should be getting Science down! There are some things that are getting easier: picking curriculum, setting the schedule and planning assignments. Thankfully, teaching our third child to read is just as exciting as it was with the first. On the other hand, our older boys are studying chemistry this year and that is definitely not easy for me. I have spent quite a bit of time studying to keep a little ahead of them, and my eight-year-old still seems to understand it better than I do.
Homeschooling has become part of the fabric of our family. We've seen a lot of good things that stem from the time we've invested in our own kids, and other homeschooling families are a tremendous encouragement. I have quit wondering whether or not we're going to continue to homeschool through Junior High and High School. I do spend a significant amount of time wondering if I will do a good job as we progress. Chemistry designed for sixth graders is challenging me . . . that can make High School pretty intimidating. The actual school subjects are not the biggest concern I have, however. I'm more concerned with the heart attitude of my children. Since we all know that children catch more of what you do than what you say, looking at their faces is like looking in a mirror. I am so aware that they can see through a phony smile, faked spirituality or half-hearted interest.
I desire to be like the homeschooling mothers I read about in books and articles. These women have an hour of devotions at 4:30 a.m. before fixing a hearty breakfast for the whole family. At precisely 7:30 a.m. their chores are done and they are leading their children in another hour of singing and Bible study before school. They float through their days on a cloud of sweet happiness; managing all the children's needs, greeting their husband with affection at the door, making a meal for the sick neighbor and volunteering in the local homeschool support group. To be honest, I feel good if I got dressed by nine, smiled at my husband when he walked in, simply remembered the neighbor is sick and managed to make it to the homeschool meeting.
On a typical day, my ten-year-old is doing the same math page for the fifth time. My two-year-old is playing with the water in the toilet. My husband calls and needs errands run right away. The church secretary is requesting information on special music. My four-year-old wants me to help her “sew” for awhile. I have two children starting to fight over who gets to wash their hands first. A friend calls and needs a place for her son to stay.
Many of you are chuckling because your days look very similar. We deal with each of these situations and somehow maintain our poise and sanity, trying to remain calm and peaceful. Underneath of all of this, however, I find myself getting frustrated and resentful towards those around me. There is always “one more thing” that needs to be done and striving to meet everyone's needs causes me to become discouraged. I want to move from doing the right action to having the right heart. I Corinthians 4:5 firmly states: “[the Lord] will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”
Applying that Scripture to myself, I know I'm falling short. The “meek and quiet spirit” we are supposed to exhibit went out the door and took with it “the fruit of patience.” Reading about “a soft answer” makes me realize I react more like Moses shattering the Ten Commandments in the face of the Israelites. And the whole concept of “training them up in the way they should go” brings thoughts of Solomon saying “vanity, all is vanity.” Underneath the appearance of “got-it-all-together” is the reality of a woman “desperately-needing-help.”
How does God work to change my heart attitude when I'm working on that never-ending math page, potty-training or getting a band aid out of someone's hair? How can God use me to teach my children when I have so much to learn myself? Will I be enough to raise my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?
Here's the truth: I'm not enough. I am the person God wants to use, but I'm not sufficient. In fact, on my own, I am going to fail. I may raise educated, polite, responsible children, but I will fail to model and teach them the few things that really matter. So, why would God take this broken and imperfect mother and make her the primary caretaker of four children? I Corinthians 1:26 says, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” Verse 29 goes on to say “That no flesh should glory in his [God's] presence.” And the conclusion is in verse 31: “That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” The answer to my question of being enough is this: God chose me precisely for my weakness!
The frustration and self-pity that sets in is caused by a feeling that I have to do it all—along with the knowledge that I'm not able. Putting trust in my own abilities leaves me feeling helpless. Deep inside I know that I am hanging on by a thin thread and at any minute my weakness will be exposed. I am tired, weak and inadequate—exactly where God needs me to be. Only when I realize what is lacking will I let go and let Him take over. At that point—He is enough. My strength is not sufficient, nor is it necessary. I Corinthians 1:8 promises, “[He] shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Psalm 9:10 holds the comforting truth that, “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.” I must be searching for Him to meet my daily needs. It only takes a cry to the Lord and He will be there. His promise is clear—He will not forsake me.
I want your strength Lord,
To move in my life.
Take away this self-pity;
Erase all the strife.
In you I can rest,
You'll carry me through.
Each day I'll surrender
My stubborn spirit to you.
Protect my children
From my imperfect heart
Wash over my sin
Give them a fresh start.
To you, dear Father,
I surrender each day
So everything they see
Is done in your way.
Please press on their lives
The precious truth I must learn:
In everything, throughout every day
To you I should turn.
Tori is privileged to be married to J Rollins and together they homeschool their four children. Tori and J live in the Imperial Valley of California and are active members of Western Avenue Baptist Church. Besides caring for her family, Tori also teaches piano lessons and enjoys scrapbooking.